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Hanoi, Vietnam

Bao tang Dong vat (Hanoi Zoological Museum)

A French-Colonial era collection of taxidermy and wet specimens, secreted away in the National University of Hanoi. 

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In a beautiful old building on the Hanoi University grounds, the Zoological Museum consists of three rooms located at the top of a set of stairs. A looming elephant skeleton lets visitors know that they’ve come to the right place. 

Mr. Vu Ngoc Thanh, the director himself, acts as a guide through the rooms, and is delighted to answer questions about any of the specimens on display. All three of the rooms are stuffed to the gills with, respectively, mammals, fish/amphibians, and birds. 

The collection is quite old and has barely been touched since the early 1900s. Though Mr. Thanh would like to see the collection updated, the crumbling, ramshackle specimens have a distinct charm for visitors who are accustomed to bright modern displays. 

The mammal room is set up in an especially unique manner - a parade of big cats, monkeys, bears, deer, rodents, a baby elephant, and others appear to be stampeding toward the door together.

This little-known museum isn’t listed in any guide books and does not have open hours. At the time of this writing, it can only be visited by setting up an appointment with the director.

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